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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

2742 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Assange: 'Ecuadorian embassy staff are like my family'

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Re: What really pisses me off

Sweden is long, thin and bendy, and their football team play in yellow. So they're about the bananariest country you can get...

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Re: In other news....

See also Peter Stringfellow...

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Well I suppose he's got the whole internet in there with him. So an infinity of cat videos and things to hack should keep him occupied. Perhaps we could break their broadband, and he'd be out like a shot. All MI5 have to do is to persuade the Ecuadorian ambassador to go to TalkTalk - no one would ever suspect...

I'm not sure they can extend the embassy. Property near Harrods ain't cheap. And they might need FCO permission to do so. Which I doubt they'd get.

I guess it all comes down to the psychology of Assange. Is he willing to stay there for ever? He is apparently paranoid, but does he really believe his own propaganda about being shipped off to the US? Or does he know he's guilty, so doesn't fancy doing time in Sweden? Or will he leave the moment he can no longer generate publicity? After all, leaving will get him loads!

Or Ecuador will just get pissed off, and chuck him out. Or the Met let their guard down, and he sneaks out.

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Re: @FunkyGibbon

So, if someone were to engage in a homosexual act in Cameroon, then skip the country to travel here, you would expect the UK to ship them back to face trial?

Nope. It's not an offence here, and therefore under a normal extradition treaty you can't get shipped out for it.

Things are a bit more muddy under the European Arrest Warrant, which is not really an extradition treaty at all, but a hybrid of that and an arrest warrant. All part of ever-closer-union. But as happens, the Supreme Court ruled that the allegations counted as offences here anyway.

Also, that's why the Home Secretary has the final say on all normal extraditions. Except for that stupid treaty that the Labour idiots signed with the US, and the EAW (which I also think is a bad idea).

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Not worth the effort. It costs us money, it's making life difficult for Ecuador. They now want to solve it.

Apparently their last ambassador said to the a junior minister at the FCO something like, how can we resolve this diplomatic issue between us? And got the rather awesome response, "not our stone, not our shoe." Ecuador got themselves into this, it's up to them to get out of it. Not that the Foreign Office can do much anyway. They don't have the legal right to waive the arrest warrant.

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Re: Deluded

John Deeb,

Nope. It's rape. That's the accusation, as confirmed by the Supreme Court, it would also be rape here. The condom/no condom offences are less serious. The attempting to force yourself on someone physically definitely goes down on the list as rape. As does waiting til she's asleep and then going for it without condom.

I don't see how any of this can be proved, there were only 2 of them in the room at each time. So even if he doesn't seem terribly trustworthy (and he skipped bail), there's got to be reasonable doubt. But there's no doubt about the law.

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Re: What really pisses me off

Okay, he seems to be a mildly unpleasant plonker, but he doesn't seem to present any particular danger to British residents, even if he did a runner.

That's the propaganda anyway... However in reality he's not only accused of not wearing a condom, he's also accused of rape. All the Appeal Court documents are public, where they list the charges and explain how they differ (or don't) from UK offences.

He's accused of trying to physically force himself on one woman, not violently only by superior size and weight, because she said no sex without condom. Eventually he then stopped put one on, but it either split or he split it. So I guess that's an attempted rape plus something less serious. Then having a go when she was asleep, minus condom of course, when he'd only got permission for sex with. Which they said was also rape under UK law, although I'd have thought less serious than the one using force. I don't remember the details of the other woman now, it was a while ago.

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Fireburn,

Nope. That little bit of land is still Blighty. It's just that we've done a deal. We don't walk into your embassy, and you don't walk into ours. It's called the Vienna Conventions. We could break it at any time, but only in exceptional circumstances, unless we want the same to happen to us.

So when terrorists stormed the Iranian embassy, Iran's government allowed us to send in the SAS. It's an interesting question as to what would have happened, had they refused. When a Libyan diplomat murdered a police woman from inside their embassy, we didn't go in, but chucked him out of the country.

However, after that incident, we did change the law to allow us to revoke diplomatic privilege under certain circumstances. So as I understand it, the threat to Ecuador was that we'd simply declare it 'no longer an embassy', then wander in at our leisure. Presumably having first given them notice. But the law was aimed at situations like the Iranian embassy, or idiot Libyan diplomats shooting out of windows - I doubt this interpretation would have got through the courts.

Also note that asylum in embassies isn't really recognised by us, or the Vienna Conventions. But is commonly accepted in South America.

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Andy S,

No I think that was Snowden. Possibly at the suggestion of Assange, the London embassy said he could have asylum. Which Ecuador then went back on I think - or certainly told the ambassador off. He may have been dumped for that, or for failing to get a deal on Assange with the Foreign Office.

Assange was in the embassy for at least a month before Ecuador confirmed they'd give asylum. That was after our ambassador botched things out there, and gave them an excuse to play the injured party. Although it may be that the embassy staff should have kicked him out before it became public. But one suggestion was that Assange had already been to the top for his permission, when he interviewed the President for Russia Today.

All-in-all, not a great advert for diplomacy. Our ambassador shouldn't have left them his written "speaking notes" (often done for clarification), then they'd have had nothing to shout to the press about. But Ecuador took a loud and sanctimonious public position, from which it's very hard to back down. They were hoping we'd do a deal, to get the problem out of our hair, but the FCO don't pay the policing budget, and have no power to just let Assange go, so Ecuador will have to back down (very embarrassing), or put up with him. Maybe buy the next door flat, and extend the embassy?

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Microsoft: Everyone stop running so the fat kid Win RT can catch up

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Re: Glacial?

Jim McDonald,

You've got a point. But, and I think this is a very big but, almost all the goodies in Windows Phone 8 were under-the-bonnet stuff, not shiny user-interface stuff. Now it's also true that the under-the-bonnet stuff allows for shinier hardware, but there wasn't a great deal of extra niceness for the users to play with in the upgrade from 7-8. So yes, they're getting the technical advances in, but I think one of the frustrations at Nokia was just how slow MS were to improve the UI stuff.

The really stupid thing is that some of this stuff was dead easy! I liked the simplicity of Win Phone, and it's the last phone I bought. Now I'm on a work iPhone - but if I buy again it'll be a Nexus device or a mid-price Nokia. But there were really simple tweaks that would only take a few days of programming work to do, that really should have been done. A torch should have been built into the OS, you should have been able to link menu options on the home screen (it allowed some but not others) - or had a shortcut menu that gave access to WiFi/volume/brightness etc, rather than burying them in the settings. All this is really simple stuff that it would take an idiot not to notice. And with all Microsoft's resources it's criminal stupidity that they didn't fix. I suspect that the managers weren't listening to criticism and all use iPhones themselves, hence weren't picking up on the everyday annoyances.

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Bonking boffins say bacon biters won't breed

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Re: We are all DOOOOOMED!

Don't worry about those condoms love, I've just had a bacon sandwich.

[...as said by Julian Assange... Allegedly...]

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Loathed wiggly-word CAPTCHAs morph into 'fun' click-'n'-drag games

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Re: Captcha's are bad m'kay?

I guess there's no magic-bullet. You're going to have to have alternative CAPTCHAs. I can't think of anything that's going to help people like me, with serious visual impairments, that won't then screw over people with hearing problems or motor problems. And I guess you've got to spare a thought for people with dyslexia on CAPTCHAs too.

Having tried the hearing ones, they're a total dead loss. I have pretty good hearing, and I'm very good at discriminating sounds, having mixed live music - but I can't make head-nor-tail of them. Some of them are so bad that I'm not even sure what's the background noise and what's the computer generated words.

I can see well enough to complete the text ones, eventually. But the more weird contrasting backgrounds and such that people put in, the worse they get - and any decent modern image edge-detection and OCR software beats my 5% vision any day of the week. But if you can see, but struggle to control a mouse, I guess wordy-CAPTCHAs are probably the best thing for you.

I'd like to take issue with one part of the article though:

Making a bad problem worse, one in four attempts at completing a CAPTCHA fail – a figure that (although we weren't able to independent verify it) sounds about right.

One in four attempts at completing a CAPTCHA succeed...

There, corrected that for you.

So, onto solutions. "If you're so clever why can't you do better style." Boring suggestion, just have multiple alternative types, and pick the one you can do. Second suggestion, a tickbox that says "are you a naughty bot". Well it works on immigration forms... I've promised that I'm not a terrorist and was never a member of the Nazi party, and obviously I wouldn't lie. Third option, which would solve spam, CAPTCHA abuse at a stroke. Digital Vigilantism. There are enough clever techy people online that we can track down the spammers, after all they have to get paid, and some ship out products. So we have online search teams and digital lynch mobs, for those without the technical skills to find the spammers - but a more direct approach to percussive server maintenance...

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Re: Less annoying than mangled text?

Tufty Squirrel,

What's wrong with advertising? Seriously, if it's not intrusive and it's allowing stuff that costs money to be free it's a perfectly good thing. For example, TV ads have in the past been funny, so a short ad break with 2 or 3 20-30 second ads that are funny or have a nice tune without being annoying are perfectly acceptable in exchange for a free TV program that's decent. If the telly's not decent, don't watch it. If the ads are annoying then record the telly and skip them, or use the time to make a cuppa or have a wee.

Online banner ads that behave and don't break the browser aren't annoying, as you aren't forced to look at them. I don't even see them unless I'm looking, or they misbehave. And again, they allow publications such as El Reg to be free - so what's not to like.

In this case, you have to have a CAPTCHA anyway, so if they can come up with something that's better than the current really shit ones, what harm does it do if it's an advert? Are you so weak-willed that you can't see a picture of a bottle of Heinz Salad Cream without having to instantly buy one? Or are you so stuck in some kind of student-politics nirvana that all big business must be evil, therefore it's still evil even if it does something good?

Of course, this new system may also be rubbish. But even then, unless it's more rubbish than the current system, it still doesn't do you any harm. So just relax.

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I'm sure I did one a few months ago, that involved putting things in a kitchen in the correct place. So the egg went in the frying pan, the spoon in the saucepan or something. But I don't remember if it was a real one, or just a demo from a company promoting the idea. To be fair, it may even have been this same company...

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Apple's Steve Jobs was a SEX-crazed World War II fighter pilot, says ex

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Re: I was Steve Jobs in a former life

But I was anonymous coward in another life, and so I refute your refutation...

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Cannabis can CURE CANCER - cheaply and without getting you high

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Hooray! My cancer is cured!

The only problem is, I'm reeeaaalllly hungry. Anyone got any crisps?

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Twitter sets up BEELLION-DOLLAR credit line ahead of IPO

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To cover all their losses. I suspect most of the IPO money will go to existing shareholders, like it did with Facebook. The difference was, Facebook makes profits. Not enough to be worth $100bn, but still plenty. Twitter doesn't. Normally an IPO is supposed to be to fund the continuing development of the company, not just to enrich the current owners. But Facebook didn't need the cash. I suspect with Twitter it's that they don't want to lose control of the gravy-train, so only want to sell 10%. But that's not enough to fund the losses, and pay and headcount rises they're going to spend to chase profits.

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Not if you're the current owners of Twitter it isn't...

#profits?

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Why a Robin Hood tax on filthy rich City types is the very LAST thing needed

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J.G.Harston,

The point of a transactions tax, is to tax transactions.

The point of a profits tax, is to tax profits.

So you don't pay capital gains tax on the transaction of selling the shares, you only pay if you made a profit, and that profit is over your annual capital gains allowance, and various other considerations. VAT is also different, for the reasons I've stated.

The idea of a transactions tax is to tax every transaction throughout the chain. Usually it's set small enough that it doesn't hurt, or affect the market too much. Sometimes it's done to reduce volatility, others just as a means of gathering relatively painless taxes. One of the downsides is that in long transaction chains, the taxes start to build up to quite high values. Unless that's the reason you're doing it, to reduce the number of transactions, then it can have serious unintended consequences. VAT isn't cumulative. The biggest problems with the FTT would most likely be to bugger up the repo market. That would mean problems for the Southern European government debt markets and for banks trying to raise short-term cash. Killing the repo market was one of the things that caused the financial crash - banks didn't trust each other, so they stopped giving each other short term loans, which is one of the ways they balance the fact that they lend on longer terms than they borrow. Causing another banking crisis or Eurozone debt wouldn't be ideal...

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You do realise we already have a stamp duty on shares in the UK?

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Capital Gains Tax isn't a transactions tax. You pay it on profits. VAT isn't either, because you don't pay it on all transactions, only the final one (it's reclaimed on the earlier ones).

Stamp Duty is, and applies to both houses and shares in the UK. At different rates obviously.

As an example of the effects of this, the stamp duty on houses in Belgium is 20%. This means people almost never move, once they've bought a house. So it has massive social effects. It's a massive distortion of the housing, rental and jobs markets for example, but certainly does stop speculation.

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Re: Yes We Do !

What about the people that bought houses they couldn't afford, and lied about their incomes?

Or the people who ran up £10k credit card debts they couldn't pay for.

I didn't buy a house in the boom, because I couldn't afford it. I might have made a huge profit, and be really happy now, but had the bust come a couple of years earlier, I'd have been doomed. So I had to save a deposit for a few more years until I could make a sensible purchase. I'm now covered if the market drops further, which it probably won't - unlike the people I bought off - who got greedy, bought what they couldn't afford and ended up losing over 30% of their money. Well as it happens, mostly someone else's money, but they lost whatever deposit they had too. And the building society in question deserved it for overvaluing the place so badly.

In fact, what about the voters who kept voting Labour because they were spending loads of money and not raising the same in tax? Are they not also partly responsible for the government deficit? It's not all the politicians' fault if some of them were opposed to it, but people voted for the other lot.

There's lots of blame to go around. The banks, governments and politicians failed, but then so did the voters. Also, seems a bit hard to blame Osborne. He had never been in government when this whole lot hit. Obviously you can blame him for whatever mistakes you think he's made since taking over.

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You do realise that a majority of all the income tax paid in this country is by 'the rich'. Things would be even fairer if we ditched National Insurance and merged it back into income tax - and more efficient too. Though that might upset the IR35 brigade, as you can avoid most national insurance by working through a company.

Even VAT isn't as regressive as many people say in the UK. Because it's not charged on food, children's clothes, housing, insurance - and at a reduced rate on energy.

Anyway, the FTT wouldn't be paid by filthy rich City Types. For that you want high top rates of income tax, or bonus taxes of something. The transaction costs are paid by the customers, so it would be pension funds and people holding stocks - and that means ordinary investors and anyone with a pension.

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Re: Shiller - quite!

Anon,

You don't understand VAT. Business don't pay it. I charge VAT on our invoices, and give it to the government. But first I claim back all the VAT on our purchases, and offset it from this, and that's what the government gets. The companies that buy from us do the same. The only people who pay VAT are the consumers - who get 20% added to their bill at the end of the transaction chain. And companies too small to claim it back of course, but they don't charge it, so get to be cheaper than us or keep the difference - and therefore aren't effectively paying it either.

So if we had VAT on the shares in my pension, let's say the company running it for me bought and sold a share every 5 years. That would mean that my first year's contribution made at 20, would by the time I'm 60 have gone through 8 VAT rateable transactions, at 20% each. That's killed pensions as a viable investment, well done...

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If such a 'Robin Hood Tax' was created, what would be the benefits in terms of revenue raised, and what would be the costs in terms of economic activity that doesn't happen?

According to the European Commission, and I'm afraid I can't find the figures easily at the moment, the top end estimate of revenue was €35bn per year. But maybe as little as half that. They've changed their estimates a few times, but I think the Commission's last prediction was that the tax would shrink the Eurozone economy overall. i.e. the tax would make the economy a bit smaller each year, than not doing it. Obviously that has compound effects, so the longer you do it, the worse position you'll be in.

When the Swedes tried this during their financial crisis, their stock market fell off a cliff - something like a 90% loss in transactions from memory. And they were forced to reverse it. But the Euro area is bigger, so that drop shouldn't be as severe. Also the European proposal tries to stop institutions from moving their trades abroad by trying to get other governments to levy the tax and hand it over to them. This is probably illegal, but what they heck, it's worth a try! I can't imagine the US agreeing, the EU could try to force Britain to comply, although that might see us leave the EU before the court case was finished - and the last story I saw had the Commission's own legal advice suggesting it wouldn't pass the ECJ.

Oh and putting a transaction tax on trades in government bonds, would probably have a catastrophic effect on the Eurozone crisis, as it would become more expensive to trade in government debt. Hence interest rates would go up. Which also might see international money staying away, risking re-introducing the funding crisis that could still destroy the Euro. Not a good idea. Spain and Italy are too big to bail out, and the current policy that's maintaining confidence that the European Central Bank will save the day is virtually impossible, as it requires a vote in the Bundestag first, and the Germans don't want it to happen.

Apparently the French and Italian stock markets have lost a lot of trade since they brought in a first stage of the FTT. But the London market has a stamp duty on share transactions, and that's one of the biggest markets in the world, so some sort of transaction tax is perfectly possible. Probably just not in this form, and not raising much cash. In the end, you can't just magic tax cash from people you don't like. The money has to come from someone, so there will always be costs.

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Leaping SpaceX GRASSHOPPER ROCKET jumps 2,500ft, lands safely

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Re: re. the observing video camera

It's the only sane way to get this kind of footage - no helicopter pilot is ever going to agree to fly that close to an operating rocket!

Well they should just man up! What a bunch of big-girls'-blouses!

There's always the tactic used when they made 'The Battle of Britain'. They had a B17 as their main camera plane, because it was about the same speed as the fighters, and had lots of places to stick cameras.

But obviously too dangerous for shots of fighters coming at the camera head-on, or the really close dog-fighting stuff. So their solution was to get a helicopter, and rig a cradle on a 300 foot wire. Then their looniest cameraman sat in that, with a camera rigged on some kind of gimbal mounting and let planes fly almost straight at him. Balls of steel. Not sure what it says for his brains though...

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Biometrics not so trustworthy: False Samsung stock-pump buy draws Swedish cops

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FAIL

Re: So they verified the release was real...

It is pretty shocking.

My credit card firm like to phone me up, and pretend to be scammers. Or rather, They like to call with the opening gambit of "what's your address and date of birth for security?"

At least they no longer seem surprised when I tell them off for being stupid, and say I'll call back. But they do still persist in giving me a number to call back on, which would be just as untrustworthy as the original call...

As stand-up comedians now make jokes about this kind of idiocy, you'd have thought the idea would be widespread enough that journos working in market-sensitive stories could use the search tools on their PCs. It's not as if they aren't linked in to all the market data or anything, let alone Google...

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Brit inventor Dyson challenges EU ruling on his hoover's energy efficiency ratings

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Re: Is it just me

I'm sure it's precisely the point. However, he may have some justification on his side. After all, the whole point of the swirly-wirly design was to do away with the bags. Because the bags only work at peak efficiency for the first bit of sucking, until you've actually used them. At which point they start to reduce in efficiency and suction.

So his point is that his should be using a relatively stable amount of energy, whereas theirs will become more energy inefficient as they're used. So testing when brand spanking new does give them an advantage - and isn't really a good test of energy efficiency. Or anything really.

He may even have a point on consumables. In something like a fridge, which is turned on 24/7, energy efficiency is obviously key. However, a hoover is only turned on once a week, for a few minutes. So consumables are a much larger proportion of the energy budget. Also if the unit drops in efficiency for a large portion of its lifecycle, it may end up consuming more power, as it has to be turned on for longer to do the same job.

Being no hoover expert, it may be that he's just getting his complaint in first. But his points seem pretty reasonable to me so far.

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His problem is that his rivals all suck. And cooperation just isn't their bag. Also untrustworthy, less than half of them being upright...

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Facepalm

Hoovering every couple of days!?!?!? Did you say days?

You didn't mean years did you? My hoover is embarrassingly energy efficient then.

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Re: Testing in a representative environment

Why should the EU test in a representative environment - it's not like they do this for anything else...

BugMan,

Aha! Now I understand it. That's why all the Eurozone banks passed the 3 sets of stress-tests they did, including all the Spanish and Cypriot ones. The Spanish ones were only bailed out 6 months after the third lot as well...

But don't worry, they're doing some more at the moment.

BTW, back on topic, how fast does a sheep travel in a vacuum cleaner?

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Dear Apple: Want to stay in business? Make an iPhone people can afford

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Why growth?

If Apple can sell say 50m top-end iPhones a year and make $200-$250 profit on each, then they are talking $10b profit at least. To make the same $10bn more profit on a cheap phone, that say only makes a $50 margin, they'd have to sell 200m more. Which is a lot. And that's assuming that the sales of the cheaper one don't reduce the sales of their high profit one. After all, for each sale of a top-end phone they lose to a cheapie, they've got to sell another 3 or 4 cheapies to make up for the drop in profits.

I suppose the real threat is the lovely profits on the year old models. Where they only drop the price by about $150, and as components get cheaper it wouldn't surprise me if the margins don't actually go up. Certainly towards the end of year two.

On the other hand, they could decide that endless growth is a bloody stupid dream, of analysts and idiots who expect stocks to rise for ever and ever and richer and richer. And accept that the iPad and iPhone market are only a certain size. Then instead of spending management and research time chasing $50 a device, they could go into some other market and try to make huge margins at the top of that. Or just sit where they are, and try to keep themselves doing well in PCs, tablets, phones and iPods. Plus the even more profitable business of selling horrifically expensive cables and adaptors.

I'm not sure how 'premium' a brand Apple are, as they have become much more mass market than they used to be. But I think they do still have the reputation for the pretty shiny-shinies of above average quality, and so it would be a risk to their whole brand to do the cheaper phones. But maybe it would be worthwhile, if they can't find any other exciting markets to go into. It's hard to do any proper calculations, but I'd have thought it's more risk to their brand to do cheap phones, than to do nothing at all.

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Bling, bling, it's HTC here: Clear us a place on the gold phone bandwagon

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Re: Hideous people

Tee Hee. I like to make the statement that I've got more money than taste.

That's why my hair is bleached whiter than my teeth, which glow in ultra-violet light, my skin is dyed orange and I bought Saddam Hussein's stock of botulinum toxin off him cheap, so I'd never have a line on my face ever again!

Shallow? What me? How very dare you!

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Re: A concierge button: genius!

Meanwhile my concierge will be fetching drinks, cigars, and a masseuse named Inga.

Surely yours will be the dressing gown with the sign on the back saying, "My other masseuse is a Portia."

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Apple's new iPhones dope-slap Samsung in US

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Re: TouchWiz...

I persuaded my friend to get a Galaxy Note 2. The stylus is incredibly useful to him for sketching. But I had to set it up for him - and it took me nearly 2 hours. Because there are a lot of options on there. Admittedly it would have been quicker if I'd not had to ask him what he wanted, then explain what the options meant...

But my point is that Samsung do throw the kitchen sink at you. And it's too much for normal users to cope with. My mate could barely set up his previous iPhone...

BTW I'm sure I read somewhere that Samsung were selling a version of the S4 with stock Android. Presumably SIM free only though.

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Re: Well, I'm not having one.

I know it's hard for you, but maybe if you got a job you'd be able to afford one, or even a Samsung as they will be on offer soon.

And the anonymous wanker award goes to...

Personally I think that more than £200 is too much for a phone, which is at high risk of damage or loss, and will be replaced quite quickly anyway. I'm currently on an iPhone 5, provided by work, but the last phone I paid for was a Nokia Lumia 710, at £130. For £200 you can get a nice mid-range Nokia Win Pho 8 - or get one of the previous year's top-end Androids. Or the Google Nexus 4. Obviously depending on what you prefer. But given those options, I think all the top-end phones are over-priced. Which is borne out by the huge profits that Samsung and Apple make on their flagship handsets.

In upgrading to the iPhone, I lost the best sat-nav, memory card access, address book and the better phone. Email clients are equally flawed, but in different ways, though I'd say Win Phone shades it. But gained a much better mobile computer, with better web-browsing and apps. At a cost of about £400 (not to me though). I could have the mobile computer bits by going Android with a Nexus 4 - and save a packet.

I might possibly make an exception for 2 top-end phones. The Lumia 1020 for the shiny camera. Assuming it really is all it's cracked up to be. And the Galaxy Note 3 (although the 2 is still really nice, and dropped in price). If you need a stylus, then it's worth the extra cash.

I think I've come to the same conclusion on tablets. I've got an iPad 3. For which I paid £550 odd. When I bought it, I thought it was still far better than the Android competition, and worth the money. I don't think that's true any more. I can give Samsung less money for a Note 10, get a stylus and a memory card slot, so I don't have to get ripped off by Apple for storage. Or save even more cash, and get a Nexus, or normal Samsung.

Apple's premium on laptops was probably worth it for a good long while, I've not looked at the high end recently, but maybe it still is. But their desktops are looking rather expensive nowadays. And so are their phones and tablets. When there's £100 difference and the competition are a bit worse, plus the resale value's high, then great. But when the competition are half your prices...

It's all opinion of course. Everyone's got their own.

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Re: 5S and 5C impressive for different reasons

MrXavia,

I haven't used a new iPhone, so the fingerprint thingymajig may be a load of rubbish. But I did have a laptop with one of the standard pull/scan-my-finger type of sensors, and it was totally rubbish. You had to look at the scanner, precisely orient your finger in the correct way, and slowly slide it across the slot at an even speed. And your reward was that it worked about 1 time out of 3.

Whereas the Apple one is on a depression in the face of the phone, in a place your thumb naturally goes to to turn the thing on, and does the scanning in the gesture that you'd be using anyway. So it looks to me like a much better implementation - assuming it actually works.

Is it innovation? Yes and no. Other people could have done it, but they didn't. They couldn't be arsed. Business laptops have had these piss-poor fingerprint readers on them for at least the last decade, and they've been shit for at least the last decade.

So do Apple deserve to be praised to the skies for their brilliance? No. Do they deserve credit for seeing that only half their users were password locking their phones, and making an effort to come up with a workable solution that's simple enough that it might actually get used? Yes.

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Digital 'activists' scramble to build Silk Road 2.0, but drug kingpins are spooked

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Re: drifting OT, but legalised, or normalised

That reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) letter to the local newspaper:

Dear Sir,

I am concerned that my next door neighbour is growing cannabis in his greenhouse. He swears that it's just cabbage, but I'm still worried. What should I do?

And the answer came back.

Eat some. If, after a few minutes, you're still worried... Then it's cabbage.

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Happy

Re: Small flaw

Or a dog...

Woof! Woof! I'm changing my username to I ain't Rover.

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TWELFTH-CENTURY TARDIS turns up in Ethiopia

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Flame

Re: 106? Shurely Shome Mishtake

"For example I would put a large bid in just so I could burn them live on youtube"

I strongly suspect that would result in a mob of enranged Who fans burning *you* live on YouTube... :-O

Burned to death in a giant wicker Dalek...

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Young? Been online five years? Congrats, you are the ELITE MINORITY

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I was talking about this the other day. My flat back in 2001 didn't (shock!) have internet (horror!) because it was too expensive to pay the Belgian telco, and I had it at work anyway. Even then I missed the ability to go online at home, which I'd had for year. Now I'd put the internet behind power, sewage and water - but well ahead of landline and TV in my list of services. So much so that the last time I moved, and had to wait a whole week for Broadband, I got a MiFi from 3 to tide me over.

The first symptom of being an internetaholic is denying that you're an internetaholic.

The second symptom of being an internetaholic is looking online for the symptoms of internetaholicism.

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Coat

Re: Digital Nativeland

I like this comment.

Oh, hang on...

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Wikipedia Foundation exec: Yes, we've been wasting your money

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Devil

Yeh. Hey, El Reg! Where's me money! I've spent ages composing, typing and editing this post - distilling my wisdom into these few sage words - and adding value to your site. And I want paying! Where's me dosh?

And don't think you can fob people off with virtual badges, in order to keep all the money to yourselves either!

Ooh shiny! What was that I was saying?

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Thirteen alleged Anons named and charged by FBI in antipiracy web war

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Headmaster

Can they also add 'crimes against capitalisation of letters' to the charge sheets please?

fOr SOme reasOn, aLL THe mOSt annOyING people online seem to do this. Perhaps it's the damp in their Mums' basements, that causes the shift keys to go all sticky. Or possibly the eating, drinking and other things, that they do when operating their keyboards one-handedly...

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You're either mighty brave or mighty stupid. So which is it, Twitter?

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They don't seem to be asking for enough money.

When Facebook went public they didn't need the money. They had plenty of cash on hand, and were turning a profit. So they only sold a bit, keeping total control for Zuckerberg, but making loadsamoney. Quite why there was such enthusiasm for the sale at so stupidly high a price is anyone's guess. But revenues keep growing, and who knows? Maybe they'll grow into the stupid valuation. Or fall over in a few years' time, due to arrogance and incompetence.

But Twitter do need the money. They're buying an ad-broker, making losses, and if they want to make more advertising sales overseas, they're going to need to get more staff to handle that. Plus R&D and (worryingly), needing to retain staff. Which rather sounds like, paying massive bonuses to retain people who can no longer be bribed with the thought of the upcoming IPO gravy-train. Even though those people aren't exactly pulling in the profits. So the difference with Facebook is that they need to sell more than a paltry 10% of the company - and that means letting the money men into bed (or at least, the boardroom).

Still, if Facebook is worth $100bn, Skype $7bn and Autonomy $10, then why shouldn't Twitter be worth another $10bn? On which note, I've an excellent bridge for sale, only one careful owner - and I'm willing to sell it for the amazing, knock-down price of $1bn...

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Feds: Silk Road pirate king tried to SNUFF customer AND employee

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Re: But...

To be fair to the FBI they got very pissed off with the CIA using torture in the early days of the War-on-Terror-thingy. I'm not sure if that's still the case, or whether they've joined in the fun as well now though.

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Re: Unreal

"Pics or it didn't happen". It would almost be funny, if it weren't so unfunny.

I suppose at least it's a step up from doing a Playmobil reconstruction... At least we now know why Lester Haines developed his Playmobil expertise.

It is funny though. And deadly serious at the same time. Assuming the information the FBI have released is mostly accurate, the guy does seem to have thought he was operating in a bad cop show.

I must say, I do love the line, "I'm pissed that I had to kill him... Why can't more people have integrity!"

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Techno-thriller author and gaming franchise Tom Clancy dies at 66

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Happy

Re: Sad loss

Sean Connery's Russian accent in Red October was particularly awesome.

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Re: Read that

I too was nervous that you recommended the book, because I've unfortunately seen the film. Co-incidentally I also saw a bit of Hellcats of the Navy at the weekend, as it was on some channel in deepest, darkest Sky. It didn't look terribly good, and I only flicked over to it for a bit. Their submarine seemed to have millions of torpedo tubes, I'm sure he said "Fire 10!" at one point. They seemed to be able to shoot a destroyer, sink it in about 5 seconds, dive to avoid its friend, then pop up and account for them - all in the space of about 60 seconds.

I know you have to compress time in films, or we'd all die of boredom. Yes I'm looking at you Peter Jackson! I've watched about 17 hours of The Hobbit already, and we've barely got anywhere yet! My legs will have fallen off by the time they get anything done. Sorry, digression alert.

I highly recommend Das Boot. Both the film, the full 6 hour mini-series and the book. Particularly as they recently digitally remastered it. This makes it all a bit nicer, but the big benefit is that they went back to the original cast and got the ones who hadn't done an English dub to do so. So you can listen to it in English, with the proper actors doing it, rather than some rubbish dubbing 'artistes' - or watch with subtitles. One word of German I definitely now know is, "Alaaaarrrrrmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!" Although there was still a review on Amazon complaining that when he watched it in English, the actors' lips didn't synch with their voices...

Oh, and one of the better DVD commentaries as well.

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Look out, Gartner: Behold the El Reg all-Flash Quadragon™ wonder map-o-graphic

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Boffin

Re: The Obvious Way to Decide

Specs? What are those?

Specs? They're the things you put on the end of your nose, in order to be able to read the technical blurb that the nice man is trying to avoid handing over to you at all costs...

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